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The Differin Diaries: Month One

To paraphrase Dr. Vail Reese, people who escaped acne in their teenage years are more likely to experience it in their 20s. I'm definitely in this camp, unfortunately, and I know a lot of you are, too. I recently started a prescription plan to clear up my skin, and I thought you might be interested in following the progress. (Of course, everyone's skin is different, and if you're thinking of prescription medicine, you should definitely see your doctor. My experience isn't necessarily what yours might be.)

I don't have terrible skin, but this summer I developed some problems that weren't going away: some clogged pores on my forehead, sore cystic acne on my chin, and blackheads on my nose. I went to see my dermatologist, who prescribed Differin 0.1% cream for the evening, and Klaron lotion for the morning. To find out how the first month has gone,

I was happy that my dermatologist prescribed Differin, because when I tried Retin-A Micro a few years ago, it was very rough on my skin. Differin, like Retin-A Micro, is a retinoid, so it accelerates cell turnover while acting as an anti-inflammatory. To use it, I wash my face, wait 30 minutes, then apply a pea-sized amount to my face. Because retinoids can be drying, I followed the Differin application with Lush Skin Drink, a somewhat heavy moisturizer. (It doesn't smell so good, but you win some, you lose some.) In the mornings, I apply a few drops of Klaron before putting on my sunblock. The idea is that Differin will exfoliate my skin and regulate the pores, while the Klaron fights bacteria.

I'm a little more than a month into this regimen, and it's been surprisingly gentle. These products do dry my skin out a little bit, but in a way that makes my skin feel tight—not red or flaky at all. The exciting thing is that my blemishes are quickly rising to the surface. I knew that the first eight weeks could accelerate pimples that were lurking deep in the skin, and occasionally I wake up with a pretty gross one (like, uh, today). The good news is that as quickly as these zits develop, they go away... and they don't come back. I don't yet have a flawless complexion, but I'm seeing an improvement. As time progresses, I'll let you know whether my skin does as well.

Join The Conversation
calliope calliope 9 years
I just read this installment because I wasn't a member when this was posted. I'm also on Differin (pilfered from my boyfriend, but whatever) and have been using it for about three months. My skin is definitely a lot better, I used to have tiny bumps that never sprouted all along the sides of my face, but my face is almost always tight and itchy feeling. I'm in the same boat with all the perfect skin through my teens, breakouts in my 20's people. Boo!
minglee minglee 9 years
Wow I thought I was the only person who had skin problems.. Ive always had clear skin until my 20s.. I went to a derm.. and now my skin is almost back to how it was.. I use differin... and i use to use Klaron.. but dont think Klaron works @ all.. but differin is amazing.. LOVES IT
designergirl designergirl 10 years
I'm getting on Accutane next week (you have to wait a month after you're first appointment to make sure you're not pregnant). I'm 23- it sucks having acne as an adult! I'm lucky-sort of- in that I might get one pimple on my face every now and then but have terrible back acne. It's so embarrassing, and I especially hate summer clothes. Hopefully Accutane and then some laser treatments for the scars will work miracles.
vancvan vancvan 10 years
I had absolutely HORRIBLE skin all through high school and college. Horrible. Nothing worked: Differin didnt do it, salycic acid was useless ... nothing worked. I finally gave in to allowing Proactiv to share a shelf with my Aveda hair products and, oh my god, it's a miracle. I stopped using it one summer and totally regretted it. I'm now 26 and have completely flawless skin. Not only that but before I used to have to wash my face DAILY, if not twice daily, otherwise i would sprout a pimple. As gross as this will sound, I can go a couple of days without washing my face and I get hardly a sheen of oil on my skin. My skin is more resilient, it's stronger, the redness is gone, past pimple marks are gone, I can't say enough good things about this. I dont use to complete line- only the face wash, toner, blemish buster, and repairing lotion. I use Aveda for moisturizer. It all works. I can finally go virtually concealer free for the first time in years. LOVE.
Kellylicious Kellylicious 10 years
I have recently switched from using Murad to some of the Boots No. 7 products in the past couple of months, and my skin has cleared up A LOT. Small breakouts also clear up within a day or so. (for anyone who is looking for a change in off the shelf products)
JDLNeil JDLNeil 10 years
On Solodyne, Benzaclin and Differin 3%. Always had perfect skin until late 20's. Not fair. I'm THIS CLOSE to getting on accutane, just because I'm so fed up with it all.
MiyabiNa MiyabiNa 10 years
*sigh* I'm so with everyone on the frustration! I had mild breakouts during my teen years and I'm now 22 and I still get them! It's SO frustrating and embarassing to be around all my friends who have great skin. =( A few months ago things were going GREAT and I thought that I was finally growing out of face really cleared up over the beginning of summer and I was glowing...but then stress hit (work) I guess and it came back with a vengance! I have some acne scars which I've treated with a bit of scar medicine (vitamin E), or neosporin (if it's that bad), or Oil of Olay's spot treatment (yeah yeah...for age spots, but I found it does wonders for old acne spots!) But now it's been 3 months of having the same pimples and scars and it doesn't seem to be going anywhere...I feel so defeated by it =/ I know it's from stress, but there's nothing I can do about preventing stress at my busy season at work... I was planning on going out to buy some of the Clinique line~ I've been hearing so many good things about it, esp for people who are beyond that teenage acne and into their 20s with it. Anyone try it? Does it work well? I don't want to waste my money on more useless products!
Cymone Cymone 10 years
does this same concept apply to those who have acne as a teen... does it go away in your early 20's?
KathleenxCouture KathleenxCouture 10 years
I've tried benzaclin, duac, retin-a, proactiv, solodin, and tons of OTC products..none have worked. Right now i am on brevoxyl wash, adoxa pills, and ziana gel and its nearly been a month. My skin peeled HORRIBLY (Im talking flakes upon flakes) I mean it was BAD at first but now my skin hardly peels at all. I want to say its working but it really hasnt worsened my acne or really made it clear up either. I am also on bc mainly for acne (and for less cramps UGH) but Im only 18 so maybe it is just a phase (this is what i tell myself haha) I often get discouraged and depressed because of my acne mainly because nothing has worked thus far. My acne is in no way utterly HORRIBLE but it is a pain and it makes me self concious. Plus I am really proud of my looks and feel like acne is my flaw. To be honest, i go tanning and when i do my acne clears up pretty well. I know its bad and I know they say that it only "covers up" acne by making it more the color of you skin but i always find i have less bumps when i get a little sun. havent tried differen but if it works i might just have to.
mocelebgossisme mocelebgossisme 10 years
k8-rckstr k8-rckstr 10 years
oh man I've had differin many times and it just wreaks havoc on my face gets tight and dry and the part of the skin where the acne was flakes off...and flakes off...and flakes seems to keep drying out and flaking for days...which can be humiliating under certain definitely dries up pimples, unfortunately it dries up the rest of your face as well :( I didnt like it, but thats just me. Aspirin mask all the way!
DCStar DCStar 10 years
I've never really seen results with Differin, because it always bothered my uber-sensitive skin too much. It makes me too flaky, even when applying a PIN-head sized amount!
desodaro desodaro 10 years
Differin made my skin get tiny blisters all over my face...(and Retin-A caused me to develop a rare diesease that caused me to go blind, require eye and brain surgery and nearly die twice!) Still an acne sufferer and my dermatologist is trying new things all the time, the hand we are dealt with skin problems are ridiculous sometimes. Just be careful people...this stuff can be really bad, really really bad medicine.
ashleygaidhlig ashleygaidhlig 10 years
Mizlynz- I have rosacea as well, and I've found that the Klaron has helped me and my mum with it, but your best bet for roseacea is sulfur based products!They smell, but they really help!
babache babache 10 years
i'm using diferine too, and my skin is looking much better. I had lots of microkystes that would always come back, at the same place, and hurt !!!!!! now, i might get a pimple or 2 but no more microkystes !!!! A miracle. And i have a sensitive skin. At first, i was all red because of Differine but now i guess my skin is used to it.
mizlynz mizlynz 10 years
Do these products help with rosacea too?
emmy-doo emmy-doo 10 years
i used differin and benzaclen when i turned 21 and looked like a dry flaking lobster for weeks. I finally stopped using the benzaclen and the redness resolved, but kept up with the differin b/c I wanted the anti-aging benefits of the retinoid. Then I went to an event my neighbor invited me to (she's a nurse for a plastic surgeon) where they told me that differin would actually make pores look larger b/c of the heavy emollients, and I spent $300+ on Obagi and Retin-A Micro and a chemical peel. He (the doc) said moisturizers are the worst thing we can do for our skin b/c they impede exfoliation. Retinoids cause rapid cell turnover and exfoliation and plump up the collagen, that's how they prevent both pimples and wrinkles.
ectoro ectoro 10 years
i used differin/azelex for years on adult cystic acne - maybe close to 8 years - until this spring. i still use the azelex occasionally but not the differin. our skin changes as we age, seasonally and in different climates. now that i am in my 30s it's all about the right moisturizer!
herjoiedevivre herjoiedevivre 10 years
leeluv, I'm using benzaclin and differin, and take sulfa pills and am on bc solely for the skin control- and it's still hard to manage! :( thanks for telling me that proactiv doesn't work, though- those before & after pics are soo tempting. glad I didn't wasthe money. and my skin gets dry/flaky whenever I use too much of either product, but lotion every morning takes care of that.
leeluvfashion leeluvfashion 10 years
I'm using Differin too! I started 2 1/2 weeks ago so my skin is just starting to purge. I've used ProActiv and it was horrible. I own the Clarisonic which is great for getting rid of these dry/flaky skin I get w/ Differin. However Clarisonic didn't work for me on it's own. I use Differin in the A.M and Benzaclin at P.M. It's helping.
spazzydana spazzydana 10 years
I'm sticking with my clarisonic!
kathynyc kathynyc 10 years
I've tired Differin, and it didn't work for me :/ I stick to Proactiv, it's the best thing i've ever tried.
Alissa1122 Alissa1122 10 years
I used Differin and minocycline as a teenager and it worked great for me. Unfortunately, I still get minor breakouts once in a while (like right now, actually), but nothing as bad as what it used to be!
Sourire54 Sourire54 10 years
Whew boy, was that ever me. I escaped teenage acne and then when I was 19 (yes, still technically a teenager, I know - I was going on 20 I'll have you know!) cystic acne hit with a vengeance. Could it have come at a worse time? I was headed off to college and I was miserable. I think I went through every acne product Walmart sold. Then I tried Murad's acne line which was mildly successful. Eventually, I went to the dermatologist and he put me on 10 months of doxcycline. It did nothing. All the while, my face look frightening and started to develop dark scars. He had me try the Retin-A deal. Eventually, he put me on 6 months of Accutane which was pretty much a miracle drug for me. Most of the scarring healed. I continued to use Murad until they changed the formula. The acne came back almost three years ago and I've been using Proactiv; I can't say enough good things about it. My face has never looked better. I can leave the house WITHOUT MAKEUP. You would never know that I had cystic acne or horrible scarring from my early 20s.
rgrl rgrl 10 years
Yes, even though you don't apply it around your eyes I definitely noticed the skin around my eyes being more sensitive. Thanks for the warning Bellasugar.
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